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Tower Hamlets prepares for biggest ever child flu vaccination drive

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Mayor John Biggs reads to children at St Anne’s and Guardian Angels Primary School from a story book about the flu vaccine

Schools and healthcare workers in Tower Hamlets are getting ready for a busy flu vaccination campaign this autumn. This year is the first in which all children aged 2-16 are eligible for a flu vaccine, including more than 38,000 children attending the borough’s 81 primary, secondary and special schools.

Flu can be very serious, causing thousands of hospitalisations and deaths in the UK every winter. With Covid-19 still circulating, the NHS expects to be put under particular pressure this year, meaning vaccination is more important than ever. As well as children aged 2-16, free flu jabs are being offered to pregnant women, over 50s, frontline health and social care workers, care home residents, carers, those at clinical risk and close contacts of immunocompromised individuals.

Today (8 October) Mayor John Biggs paid a visit to St Anne’s and Guardian Angels Primary School in Bethnal Green to launch the council’s flu vaccination campaign and read to children from a story book about the vaccine. The book is being distributed to all primary schools in the borough to help teachers explain the flu vaccine to young children.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said:

“Flu vaccines are so important to help prevent the spread of this dangerous virus in our communities. Every year flu causes a sad number of hospitalisations and deaths, but many of these can be prevented if all of us who are eligible do our part and get vaccinated. I urge everyone who is offered a vaccine to come forward for their jab and help ease the burden on our NHS in the winter months.”

Cllr Asma Begum, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Children, Youth Services, Education and Equalities, said:

“We’re working hard to make sure that as many children as possible are protected against flu this winter. As well as preventing children from getting sick and from passing the virus on to family members, the vaccine will help children stay in school rather than missing days through illness. After a year of so much disruption due to Covid, this is especially important for our children’s education.”

What kind of vaccine will children recieve?

Most children will be given a nasal spray vaccine as it is quick, painless, and more effective than an injected vaccine when it comes to stopping the virus from passing on to others. This won’t be suitable for all children since the nasal spray contains a small amount of porcine gelatine, which is why an alternative injectable vaccine, containing no pork or other animal products, will also be available.

Sumaira Tayyab, Programme Lead for Maternity and Early Years in the Tower Hamlets Public Health Team, said:

“It’s more important than ever to get your child vaccinated against flu. Vaccinating children protects them from a potentially serious illness, but it also protects the community because children are ‘super-spreaders’ of flu, passing the virus more easily to those around them.”

Where will children be vaccinated?

Children aged two and three can be vaccinated at their GP surgery, while older children will be vaccinated in school, with catch-up clinics for those who are out of school on the day their vaccination is scheduled. Eligible adults can get their vaccine at their GP surgery or a local pharmacy.

Find out more at www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/immunisation

Posted on Friday 8th October 2021